The games industry moves quickly and while stories may come and go there are some that we just can't let go of…
So, to give those particularly thorny topics a further going over we've created a weekly digest where the members of the PocketGamer.biz team share their thoughts and go that little bit deeper on some of the more interesting things that have happened in mobile gaming in the past week.
As a fan of Elden Ring (and the Bloodborne and Dark Souls series), I’m intrigued what Tencent plans to do with the franchise as it plots a free-to-play mobile game based on the IP.
It comes at a time when Tencent has pulled the plug on titles like Apex Legends Mobile and a Nier game with Square Enix after two years in development. The news also comes after Tencent chairman Pony Ma said the firm had been “resting on its laurels” in the games space. Ouch.
But the fact is, Tencent needs to show returns for its big investments in the global games industry and it needs new hits to navigate the challenging regulatory environment in China.
Elden Ring was a smash hit, but can it really make it as a free-to-play mobile game? The idea seems to brush up against the core of what a Souls game is all about and what the audience would be clamouring for in the next entry into the series.
It does feel a bit like a sign of the times. Big gaming IP going cross-platform and companies looking for top licences to help propel them up the app stores in a tough marketing landscape. I wouldn’t put success past the teams at Tencent, but I’m curious, in light of recent failures in bringing console and PC IP to mobile, how this particular project will fare and if it will ever make it to a global release.
“Hey Siri, how long left on the timer?”… “There are no timers set”… “HEY SIRI, HOW LONG LEFT!?”… “Still working…”, "Hmm, I'm having trouble with the connection…", “This is taking too long…". Aaand my dinner’s burnt. Great.
That Apple hasn't noticeably updated Siri since it launched (with the iPhone 4S) over 12 years ago is more shocking than the advent of putting a voice activated digital assistant in your pocket ever was. For a company that thrives or dives on hitting an annual refresh beat with its hardware and software, leaving something so half-baked and semi-broken so far up front is remarkable.
And yet, Siri has rumbled on (more often than not when you didn’t want her to) missing the point, not listening properly and proudly describing the things that she can’t do rather than actually doing them, ever since birth. But this week Siri sufferers finally got a glimmer of good news.
Seems that rather than miss the AI gravy train, Apple are right on board and have been quietly hoovering up AI tech at a greater pace than any of their rivals. And surely when it comes to giving this new power a direct pipeline into your personals, upgrading Siri would be the first place to start? Perhaps, rather than update Siri incrementally (and have us all complain that she’s still as useless as ever each time) Apple has saved up all the new goodness to drop all at once? Hey, we can dream.
In theory, therefore, at the company’s WWDC this year - just months away - we’ll see exactly what the Apple AI bomb looks like and - fingers crossed - come September 2024 we’ll have a new phone tailor made to run it all on device, making Siri faster and smarter than anything out there. Phew.
But until then… “Hey Siri, set a timer for 5 minutes”… “I set your alarm for 5am…” Sigh…
The announcement of Disney’s $1.5 billion investment into Epic Games was quite the story this week. Not only is that a large sum of money, but the deal is between two absolute giants. Love it or hate it, Fortnite has changed the face of gaming and will likely continue to do so, something that Disney is obviously aware of and now wants a piece of.
The story notes that Disney is looking toward creating a new ‘entertainment universe’ where users can play, watch, shop and engage with content from the world of Disney and everything under its umbrella, such as Star Wars and Marvel. Disney has always had an interest in gaming, but they have lacked a certain level of commitment to it, so to me, it makes complete sense for them to team up with Epic Games to compete in the market. Is this another push toward the elusive metaverse? Perhaps, but buzzwords aside, Disney knows much of its current and future audience are and will be gamers, so they need to create an evolving space for them and what better way to do that than through Fortnite?
Disney already has its space in movies/TV, theme parts and physical products, but it also knows where the audience is heading and sees Epic at the head of the spear; a pairing between the two allows Disney to have a foothold in yet another prominent space, one that can be forever updated. I’d say the deal is a win for all parties involved.